On the shores of the Arctic Ocean, in the first house of the village of Pykeja, a happy tourist entrepreneur opens the door.

Elsa Haldorsen, a fifth-generation Finn, has been able to serve tourists more than ever before during the Coronation Summer.

The fishing village of Bugøynes, Pykeija in Finnish, is now of interest to both Norwegians and Finns.

In July, the roadsides of the small village were parked full of cars.

A table had to be reserved for the local restaurant several days before the visit.

Pykeija was withering away from the map in the 1980s and 1990s as fishing declined and fish processing plants closed.

Now tourism has increased and the coron summer brought new tourists to northern Norway. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

Elsa Haldorsen is familiar to many Finnish guests of Pykeja. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

Elsa, 76, is happy with the flow of tourists in the village, but at the same time she has found that age weighs down and an accommodation company should find a successor.

- I've been trying to attract my sons here, but they have not previously agreed to.

Now that the coronavirus has hit and telecommuting has increased, one boy’s mind is starting to change.

Maybe I'll get him lured back to his home village, Elsa says in Finnish.

Pykeija, Bugøynes in Norwegian, is located on the shores of the Varanger Fjord in northern Norway. Photo: Heini Hämäläinen / IS

Elsa's company, Jäämeren Sauna, is familiar to many Finns.

There are cottages and a wood-heated sauna on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

A room can be rented from the house.

There are places for motorhomes on the other side of the village.

There is also a sauna and a gallery restored from an old boathouse.

You can rent a bike or kayak from Elsa.

The relaxed mood of the fishing village can be seen in Elsa's yard.

The old boat half has a place for the keys to the cottages.

“If the key is here, then the cottage is empty and you can go there,” the signboard says.

Elsa's company trusts customers. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

Pykeija, also called Little Finland, is inhabited by Finns.

Finnish immigrants arrived in northern Norway, or Ruija, in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Most of the migrants set off from Peräpohjola, Lapland and the Tornio River Valley.

In addition to Pykeja (Bugøynes), they settled in the neighboring villages of Kirkenes, Vadsø and Vardø.

In the center of Pykeija village there are detached houses, a cemetery and a church. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

Elsa says that she is a fifth-generation Finn.

His former surname is Inkilä.

The immigrants and their descendants are also said to be Kvens, but at Elsa’s home the name Kveen was not tolerated.

- According to the mother, the Kvens were always associated with negative things, crimes and violence.

In our house, that word was not allowed to be said.

We are Finns, descendants of Finns or Finns, Elsa emphasizes.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 Kven still live in northern Norway, but only a few thousand of them speak the Kven language.

The small village is surrounded by large mountain areas. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

In Pykeija, which has less than 200 inhabitants, the Finnish language has been preserved so well that you can do business in Finnish at a local bistro and convenience store.

Finnish is taught in the village school.

In her speech, Elsa mixes Norwegian and Finnish in a fun way.

- Where might I now put brillini.

Usually they always hang around their necks, he says when looking for glasses.

A memorial stone for Finns who moved to Pykeija. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

When the Finns settled Pykeja, the bread was brought by fishing and reindeer husbandry.

Now there are 15 fishing vessels in the village harbor.

Most of them go to the Arctic Ocean to catch king crab.

The king crab is an alien species that has spread to the area through Russian transplants and is said to have saved many small villages in northern Norway.

It has helped fish processing factories survive, and the crab also attracts tourists to king crab safaris.

For fishermen, crab is now almost as important a catch as traditional cod.

Kamchatka crabs are large, can weigh about 10 pounds and be 1.5 meters long.

In the only restaurant in the village you can enjoy a whale or a king crab. Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

The king crab plate is a popular dish at a local restaurant.Photo: Mirja Rintala / IS

The life of a small northern Norwegian village was still at stake in the 1970s and 1980s.

The young people moved away, fishing was not worth it.

The beautiful village was threatened with death.

Elsa worked in the village as a teacher for 16 years before moving into tourism and becoming an entrepreneur.

Pykeija rose to world consciousness when the place was declared for sale in the 1990s.

The villagers made an announcement in a Norwegian newspaper.

It also attracted attention abroad.

Journalists came to the scene from Paris.

Elsa says the whole hustle and bustle was just a misunderstanding, but it made the village noticeable.

- We did not want to sell the village, but to move somewhere else.

Since then, the French newspaper Le Monde has been monitoring the life of the village every five years.

And it was also noticed in Norway that we exist.


 Since then, the French newspaper Le Monde has been monitoring the life of the village every five years.

76-year-old Elsa is a strongman in Pykeja.

He has been involved in many projects to revitalize the village.

Lassintalo in the harbor is one of them.

The dilapidated house was repaired and now has a museum, information point and culture room with libraries.

The library has received thousands of books as grants from Finland.

Elsa was last activated in early September when she heard that the bishop was coming to visit the village.

This time the anarchist grandmother wanted attention for the church in the middle of the village, the doors of which are locked.

- The church doors are closed.

They should be open so that tourists can see the church from the inside.

I put a sign “Shameful!” In the bishop’s car left in the parking lot.

The bishop's entourage read it from that window together, Elsa says with a laugh.

Promoting tourism is one of his favorite topics.

Accommodation has been provided in the detached houses of the village, but there is no hotel there.

The bistro serves diners, but Elsa would miss a summer cafe where tourists could pop in during their visit.


 I put a sign “Shameful!” In the bishop’s car left in the parking lot.

The bishop's entourage read it from that window together.

- Now you should become an entrepreneur here.

Last summer was really lively.

There are always a lot of Finns here, but now even the Norwegians have noticed that Pykei exists and it is worth visiting here, he rejoices.

Pykeija aka Bugøynes

  • The place was inhabited by Finns in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  • The distance to the village is about 90 km from the village of Näätämö on the Finnish side and about 100 km from Nuorgam.

  • There are less than 200 inhabitants.

  • The school has 15 students and the kindergarten has 3 children.

  • The work is provided by tourism and fishing for cod and crab.

  • Pykeija Finns speak the old Finnish language.

    It has a lot in common with the language of mea spoken on the western border.

  • Finnish is taught in the primary and secondary school of the village's Norwegian-language school.